Not to be outdone, a be-medalled Cristabel Martes also proved her mettle in the 21K track and earned herself a back-to-back win in the local race. Both Buenavista and Martes have four National MILO Marathon titles under their belt and are considered to be two of the best runners in the country.
Buenavista, Martes and 35 other qualifiers booked themselves a ticket to the finale in December, where 500 of the country’s finest athletes will compete for up to Php 300,000 in cash and for a chance to represent the Philippines at the 2014 Paris Marathon courtesy of MILO. About 5,210 athletes, students and running enthusiasts joined the prestigious race today in the City of Pines.
Leaving no room for error, two-time Olympian Buenavista made good use of his quick reflexes to take the lead at the starting gun, and closed his finishing time at an impressive 1:12:39. With Cesar Castaneto (1:14:21) and last year’s local champion Hernanie Sore (1:19:55) trailing behind him in desperate pursuit, the 35-year old Cotabato native sustained a matchless pace and claimed his third Baguio title.
Adding today’s victory to his extensive collection of titles, Buenavista revealed that he may not be able to compete in this year’s MILO Marathon finals, as he is set to represent the country at the Southeast Asian games (SEAGames) in December.
“If time and condition permit, I’ll compete in the finale. If I do, my goal would be to defeat James Tallam in the Open category race. “I plan to train here in Baguio with the Philippine Athletics Team. My training will cover all aspects of running to ensure that I am prepared to meet strong local and foreign competitors.” ~Eduardo Buenavista~Last year, Buenavista finished around 3 minutes after his foreign rival, and claimed the Local category win at the MILO Marathon finals.
In the distaff division, long-time Baguio bet Martes posted a wide margin over her closest pursuers Gretchen Ablaza (1:49:41) and Rowena Ba-A (1:50:43), and maintained the distance from start to finish. Unfazed by the uphill track at the end of the route, Martes clocked in at a swift 1:31:33 and claimed her sixth trip to the National Finals.
“I have had a long career as an athlete. I started running in 1992, and shifted to long-distance running in 1999 when a coach of the Philippine team discovered me” ~Cristabel Martes~That same year, the running legend went on to become the then-youngest female runner to win the National MILO Marathon title at 21 years old. Her other stellar victories include taking home 2 gold medals in the SEAGames (2001, 2005) and winning various international races in Hong Kong and Cambodia. She also expressed that runners like her who are in their 30s perform extraordinarily well in the sport.
“Being 34-years old, I am currently at my athletic prime. I want to maximize my physical peak and use it to cultivate and develop future running champions. However, I have to start focusing more on motherhood. I respect what MILO is doing to help young athletes and I am proud to be a part of their cause.” ~Cristabel Martes~Martes is both a coach at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and a mother to one daughter.
As an ongoing commitment to inspire more Filipinos especially the youth to overcome all of life’s obstacles and engage in a wholesome sport like running, MILO provides pairs of running shoes to underprivileged students nationwide through MILO’s Help Give Shoes advocacy. With the invaluable support of MILO Marathon runners and partners, a total of 500 pairs were delivered to beneficiary schools today in Baguio, including Benguet High School, Bakakeng Elementary School, Manual A. Roxas Elementary School, Jose Rizal Elementary School and Josefa Carino Elementary School, bringing the total shoe count to 31,700.
“The MILO Marathon was the first sports event launched by MILO in the Philippines, and we have since truly grown as a local stage for athletics. This is evident in the number of runners we have engaged in the sport as well as in the caliber of talents that we attract and produce to date. Eduardo and Cristabel are greatly recognized in the country and in Southeast Asia, and bear out the class of competition that the MILO Marathon continues to raise for both elite athletes and beginners. As we near the end of another season, we look forward to shaping a new band of champions through more quality races and our sports development efforts centered on education across all regions.” ~Andrew Neri, MILO Sports Executive~The qualifying race will commence in Dagupan on November 10, before advancing to Tarlac (November 17) and Angeles (November 24). The 37th MILO Marathon National Finals will be on December 8 at the SM Mall of Asia grounds.
Click this link to view the complete race result.